Fifth Sunday of Easter – Epistle

by Crossings

New, Faithful, Free
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Revelation 21:1-6
Analysis by Timothy Hoyer

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” 5And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

DIAGNOSIS: “Flee, Fly, Foe, Son”

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Flee
The man in the hospital bed had suffered a mild heart attack. His son, himself a grandfather, was in the room with him. The man in the bed had also just learned that he had a rare blood disease that was incurable. The old was passing away and the son had tears. As it often happens, the man in the bed evaluated his life and judged it according to the things he had done (Rev 20:13). Why do we feel our life must be judged? To judge our life is to measure its worth. To judge our life is to measure its meaning according to what we have done and how much we have done. We judge our life because we live by the law. The law leads us to feel that we must judge our life.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – Fly
The one sitting on a great white throne judged the world (Rev 20:11). Earth and heaven fled from his presence. They passed away. They fled because they feared being judged. (Flight, as the TV cops always say, is a sure sign of guilt.) They are guilty of many things including death, mourning, crying, and pain (v. 4) — the very things that are against the will of the one seated on the great white throne. We conclude that they are against his will because he gets rid of them (and we get rid of what we do not like). Such things (mourning, crying, and pain) are signs that the creation is not preserved — and God’s law serves to preserve creation.

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – Foe
The man in the hospital bed who judges his life according to what he had done has this much in common with a passing-away earth and heaven: neither trust in God as the giver of worth. The man looked to his deeds. Earth and heaven had their own deeds to look to: mourning, crying, and pain. Without faith in God, heaven and earth fled (as did Adam and Eve). Neither could remain in the presence of God. There is no place (Rev 20:11) for those who do not fear God. (That’s why the son of the man in the hospital bed feared that there would soon be no place with God for his father.)

PROGNOSIS: (Not Just Improved But…) New

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – Son
Suddenly, a new heaven and a new earth now appear (v. 1). The one, who is the Beginning by making new, first put an end to the old through the death of Jesus, the Son of God. The way of judgment, the old way, has passed away. “It is done” (v. 6), says the one seated on the throne, same-saying what the one on the cross said, “It is finished!” Then the one who sits on the throne says, “See, I am making all things new” (v. 5). The first to be made new is Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. Death has no more dominion over him. In him, death will be no more. Which means that we will no longer have a separate home from God, that he will be our God and not the law, we will be his peoples and no longer stuck in the old way.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – Faith
The man in the hospital bed, like most other patients, gets thirsty. A nurse brings a large cup of ice water with a straw from which he drinks to great satisfaction. We thirst for worth, for life, for life that lasts. “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things” (v. 6), says the one who sits on the throne. We are given Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, as the water of life (see John 4:1-26). In him we do not fear, for he has overcome, conquered the world (the law). And this is something worth sitting up to drink in.

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – Free
The man in the hospital bed lightly chuckles with an inner delight that he is ready for the Lord to take him. It is not death that will take him, though it may look that way at first. But the old is passing away and God is making all things new. The man in the hospital bed will be made new, new because he will dwell with God in the new Jerusalem. There life is not measured, for there will be no night, just the light of the glory of God the Almighty and the Lamb (Rev 21:23). Our worth is given to us free; it’s a gift. The man in the hospital bed is not only judging his life, he is rejoicing in all the good that he has been given. We will still have tears and pain, though not like those who have no place. The glory of God and the Lamb shine on us now through the proclaiming of the Promise. And in that glory we are free from the old way of judging our life for worth, and free to use the worth of Christ to serve those who need comforting.


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